I've said all along that the first step to a successful football program for Vanderbilt is... weaker non-conference scheduling.
Kentucky has mastered this. When Vandy went to the Music City Bowl two years ago, the Commodores had a 6-6 overall record and a 4-4 SEC record. Meanwhile, the Wildcats also had a 6-6 record and a Liberty Bowl bid, but a 2-6 SEC record. Same overall results, thanks to a truly bad non-conference schedule, thanks in part to an inexplicably bad Louisville team.
Meanwhile, teams like Wake Forest that looked good on Vandy's long-range schedule suddenly started winning conference championships.
The key? Schedule really, really bad teams — or especially teams that will be really, really bad when you play them. And always schedule one team from a lower division.
Anyway, Vandy announced today that it's finally scheduled a home game with Austin Peay.
"It really makes sense for both parties," says David Williams, Vice Chancellor of University Affairs and Athletics, which means he gets quoted in stories when the athletic director is supposed to get quoted but he's not the athletic director because that sort of thing is beneath a prestigious academic institution like Vanderbilt but not like Ohio State.
"It provides opposing fans with a close road trip to support their team and it creates more local college football talk and interest. The short travel also can add a budgetary benefit for the visiting school."
"Oh yeah, and we think we can beat the Peay out of those guys."
I added that last part. I lived in Clarksville, Tenn., for several years (great place, by the way) and while the game will be good for the Commodores, it'll also be good for Governors, whose program is on the rebound.